Directed by: David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane
With so much anticipation and build-up from years of experiences, turmoil, excitement, and pain, having a finale land with a dud would be heartbreaking. This has occurred on many occasions with shows, but fear not Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 does not disappoint in capping the epic story of the boy who lived. Emotionally resonant, thrilling in its battle sequences, and just an entertaining ride, this feature gets the job done.
A few Horcrxues remain for Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends to find and destroy in order to finally rid the world of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). As the final battle mounts, Potter makes his way back to Hogwarts to prepare for the fight of their lifetimes, with plenty of obstacles still in their path.
It’s incredibly heartening to have a finale like this feature just sticks the landing on this story. Years of anticipation and hours of film consumption all came with the promise of the showdown between Harry and Voldemort. The boy who lived versus the dark lord and it all comes together seeing as all of the explaining and exposition ceased. All of the info has been laid out, it simply just comes down to execution and this film does it very well.
With the final battle on the horizon, it becomes a battle against time with Voldemort about to launch his final assault and Harry needing to weaken him to the point where the dark lord can be killed. This involves finding more Horcruxes for Harry seeing as Voldemort has found the Elder Wand, possesses it, and now has it aimed squarely at the titular character and allies. This sense of finality feels evident in these moments, as others try to stall as much time as possible. Each mission in destroying another Horcrux comes with the knowledge of failure not being an option thus creating a relentless sense of tension to each interaction.
Everything culminates with the return to Hogwarts for Harry and all of the other characters we have come to learn and love throughout the years and the epic battle does not disappoint. The biggest focus remains when Harry and Voldemort face off but plenty of individual battles demonstrate how personal this entire endeavor is for everyone. Bad blood exists here and runs deep, which invigorates the scenes not occupied by Harry and Voldemort. Little victories as well as some heartbreaking losses, everything comes to a head here to such an effective degree.
As the smaller battles played out, the generosity of spreading the wealth to several characters added to the feeling of culmination in this film. Even individuals like Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) receive their moments to contribute to the overall goal of taking out Voldemort. It became quite surreal seeing several of these actors who we have seen grow up going all the way back to 2001 and The Sorcerer’s Stone and now these characters are holding their own against Death Eaters. They receive their due and in style.
No new characters of note are introduced but this feature becomes a truly wondrous showcase for Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. Prickly and harsh for most of the series, all of the context regarding this character gets revealed in this film to finally answer the question of whether or not he’s actually a good guy. In the small moments Snape actually has compared to the impact in the story, Rickman makes each and every second count to remind us of the brilliance the man displayed as an actor. One of the performances that have been building up from the very first film and then comes together in the perfect way.
Having not talked about their acting much throughout my other reviews for this series of films, it would be apt to speak on the incredible consistency brought on by the core of actors from day one. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were never the best actors when paired opposite the wonderful slate of cast members they’ve had throughout the years but they always put in a shift and created a bond with millions of people with the portrayal of these characters. Radcliffe made this role his own and rightfully has the association of this character for the rest of his life. Then you have Maggie Smith playing the always sympathetic Professor Minerva McGonagall. Even when all gets lost in Hogwarts, she remains the beating heart of it through compassion. A level of consistency of quality really sums up a series of films that certainly had high and low points, but never an outright bad entry. It speaks to the power of the universe created and the meticulous care of the filmmakers to bring it to life even with plenty they needed to cut out to not have each entry be three hours long.
To have the level of success this feature has accrued over a stretch of eight films is incredibly impressive with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 being the exclamation point it deserves. All of the final preparation leads to the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort and it certainly does not disappoint in displaying what makes the two inextricably linked and what will need to occur for one of them to die. An overall well-made feature, which went for it all and received dividends as such.